Paying for poor services

So much of the work that comes into my constituency office is about things that Labour-run Haringey Council has failed to do. The calls, emails or letters complaining about Haringey come in to me generally at the point that the local resident has tried (often many times) calling Haringey. When they cannot get a response – they come to me.

Sometimes they find they can’t even get an answer to a phone call (for over a year, Haringey shockingly failed to pick up the phone at all to 1 in 3 calls to its call centre). Sometimes people leave a message – and then they come to me because no-one calls back. If they are lucky enough to ever get an answer – he or she is passed around – and whatever the problem is – Haringey then doesn’t address or resolve the issue. And then they come to me.

If Haringey Council answered calls and took the proper action in the first place – people might not resent paying one of the highest Council Taxes in London.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to listen to people, answer their calls and address their issues properly. I do – and my office does. Obviously not everything is easily resolved – but this failure by Haringey Council to respect local people as those the council is there to serve is unacceptable, frustrating, disrespectful and wasteful – and hugely expensive.

Doing things properly first time round costs a lot less. That is just one of the reasons why Liberal Democrats have pledged in their Council Manifesto for the local elections on Thursday May 22 to freeze Council Tax for the next four years – with the aim of bringing the tax down to the London average. Currently under Labour, Haringey has the fifth highest Council Tax in London.

Richard Wilson, Liberal Democrat leader of Liberal Democrat group on Haringey Council, has published the fact that under the previous Labour Government, an average band D bill in Haringey rose by a whopping £474.34.

But, since 2010, Liberal Democrats in Government have actually given Haringey over £6m to enable them to freeze tax for residents, with £2m more promised. This, combined with relentless local Lib Dem campaigning, finally forced the Labour administration to freeze Council Tax. Good progress – but more to do!